Whale shark at Georgia Aquarium by Photomatt28

It’s common knowledge that whales aren’t actually fish at all but mammals. It’s possibly also common knowledge that a whale shark is the biggest fish in the world. It’s also the biggest non-mammal alive today and it could even give many of the bigger dinosaurs a run for their money in terms of weight. The biggest recorded whale shark was 12,65 meters (41.5 ft) and weighing in at 21,5 metric tons (47,000 lb). And that’s just on record. There are constantly rumours and unconfirmed sightings of individuals as big as 14 meters (46 ft) and the biggest rumoured sighting was of a whale shark 17 meters (56 ft) in length.

Despite their size whale sharks are very docile. They sometimes even give lifts to divers (althgouh biologists discourage trying to do this) and young whale sharks are known to play with divers. This is because like so many other huge ocean dwellers, whale sharks eat only the very small. Besides plankton, whale sharks have been documented to eat schools of small fish as well as the eggs of larger fish during mating frenzies. Very little is known of their own reproductive behavior though. One female was caught in 1996 pregnant with 300 pups. This would seem to indicate that whale sharks birth live pups instead of laying eggs. Luckily for the mother though, it would seem that not all of the pups are born simultaneously but rather in a steady stream. The pups are born 40-60 cm (16-24 inches) long and begin their life on their own pretty much right away.

And just because it’s so darn cute; apparently in Vietnamese culture the whale shark is a deity called “Ca Ong” which translates to “Sir Fish”.

Whale Shark by RobertFrancis